|"You do not need to take any immediate action."
||[Dec. 22nd, 2012|10:01 pm]
Yesterday I got the e-mail (and phone call! and phone call to the other line!) I had been expecting for the last few weeks: management was canceling more of the Minnesota Orchestra's concerts, including the Dvorak and Bartok I was looking forward to in late January. The management is trying to claim credit for being the flexible ones for inviting the musicians back to the table to talk, but we all remember who did the locking out. The fact that they have paired this request for conversation with more cancellations makes it clear that they were just hoping the musicians would say, "Okay, never mind, we'll do everything you want." Sigh. And of course there's an attempt to distract from the inquiries about misuse of funds.
But the line that really got me is the title of this post: "You do not need to take any immediate action." I read that and I started laughing. I beg to differ, Orchestra Management! Orchestra patrons do need to take immediate action. We need to keep contacting the people in charge of this and making it clear what we think of their behavior. The patron comment line is listed on the Minnesota Orchestra website. But that's pretty far away from where you are now and would require looking, so I will just give it to you! It's (612) 373-9204. That's (612) 373-9204! If you call that number, you can leave your comments with an answering machine--you don't have to worry about what you will say and what they will say and what you will say back. You just get to have your say.
There are other things you can do listed on the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians' page. They have addresses for ease in contacting the appropriate politicians and public figures. Go forth! Take immediate action!
I don't know if it's clear why I'm doing this, why I'm talking about this particular thing so much when there are so many things that are problematic. And one, I love music in many varieties, and really great classical music is under serious threat in my city, and I think in my country. But one of the reasons why I feel like this is my fight inasmuch as I can find fight in me to apply beyond the immediate realms is that I kind of feel like we're all in this together. I mean people in the arts, but also more generally people trying to do something amazing. Something awesome. Something creative not in its woobly wishy-washy modern application, but in very concrete terms: this thing did not exist in this form before, and I created it. This loaf of bread, this poem, this theory, this performance. That's important.
In some ways my geek angst in junior high and high school--even in grade school--does not align with the cultural narrative, and one of the clearest ways in which that misalignment is true is the "geeks vs. jocks" meme. I never felt like I was at war with the jocks or was being persecuted by them or anything like that. The jocks were a bunch of people who cared about stuff. What we are fighting against--consciously, constantly--is the forces of apathy and neglect. We can all be in that together. And we can all use what we've got in that fight, and what I've got--other than a boatload of cookies this time of year--is words. If the Orchestra needed someone to be on their side who could do kickass graphic design, they would have to keep looking. But words, we can do words. We have those here.
In the church in which I grew up, people learned not to go to the senior pastor and say, "SOMEbody should blah blah blah," because he would make sure--sometimes subtly, sometimes not--that they would throw back their shoulders, lift up their chins, and say in a proud and happy voice, "I--am--somebody!" Well, folks, you are somebody. If you care about classical music, if you care about unions, if you care about the Minnesota Legislature having a handle on where their funds are going, this is for you. It doesn't have to be your fight 24/7. But it can be little pieces of your fight, if you want it to.
Sometimes it's good for us to want it to.